CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 5 Apr) – With no rain clouds in sight, the Office of Civil Defense in Region 10 (OCD-10) raised the status to “blue alert” after it was reported that the forest fires in Mt. Kitanglad in Bukidnon have spread to nearby mountains.
OCD-10 Regional Director Ana C. Caneda said lacking firefighting equipment, volunteers face a daunting task in stopping the spread of the forest fires to the rest of the 47,720-hectare Mt. Kitanglad mountain range in Bukidnon.
“The volunteers have to climb steep mountains to get to the fire locations. We lacked rope, firefighting equipment and there is not enough volunteers to cover the area,” Caneda said.
The struggle to contain the forest fire in Mt. Kitanglad appeared to have failed as reports from the field indicated that new fires have spread to the other mountains in the Mt. Kitanglad range, namely, Mt. Mangantol, Mt. Matampay, Mt. Butoc, Mt. Nakalo, and Mt. Undingan.
During its assessment meeting Tuesday afternoon, OCD-10 also received confirmed reports that new fires have broken out at Mt. Kalatungan, the sixth highest mountain in the country.
Gerry Ablon, of the Libona municipal disaster risk reduction and management council, said more than 100 persons living in Sitio Alawon, Barangay Sil-ipon are threatened by the spreading fire.
“The fire has gutted all the dry cogon and is threatening to encircle the village of Alawon,” Ablon said.
Calls have been made for donations for the purchase of critical firefighting equipment like knapsack sprayers, axes and spades, rope, medicine, boots and food.
M/Sgt. Abel Idusma, of the Philippine Air Force Tactical Operations Group at Lumbia Airport, said they are waiting for the arrival of two Huey UH-1D helicopters that would be used to ferry fire fighters and volunteers up the mountains.
Idusma said a Cessna plane chartered by the Department of Agriculture for cloud-seeding operations is on stand-by at the Lumbia airport.
Felix Mirasol Jr., assistant regional director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resource in Region 10, said they needed 478 volunteers to dig 66 kilometers of fire line in the affected areas.
Mirasol urged the Bureau of Fire Protection to give the volunteers a quick workshop on how to fight forest and grass fires.